When does interest become obsession?

When does reporting the news slip seamlessly into manufacturing the news?

And when does a constant barrage of negative publicity on the world’s sole Jewish nation – accompanied by the total exclusion of reporting on major news in surrounding Muslim nations – achieve official recognition as a political campaign? A state-funded political campaign, at that.

Spotlight Sweden.

I’ve just returned from a week in England. In my seven days there, there was not one single news story related to Israel – and this, it should be remembered, is the home of the BBC. Or as it is popularly known, the Voice of Palestine.

A friend of mine has just returned from Poland. In the two weeks that he was there, Israel figured in the news just once, and that was when EU-prima donna Catherine Ashton tossed her curls and demanded that Israel let more goods into the Gaza Strip. Ms Ashton feels that the existing five-star hotels and restaurants, the Olympic-standard As-Sadaka Club’s swimming pool, the water-park and multimillion dollar beachfront mansions are reason enough to let more consumer goods into the Hamas-controlled territory from which more than 11,000 rockets have been fired onto civilian homes and civilian infrastructure in Israel, such as this children’s rehabilitation centre in Sderot. That was the news that Poland reported – concisely, objectively and straightforwardly.

In Canada, meanwhile, there was one story about Israel during the same period – relating to the fact that Israel was returning some ships to Turkey after the attempt by Ankara’s Islamist regime to break Israel’s blockade on the import of additional rockets and missiles into the Gaza Strip.

Contrast this with Sweden. In an average month of 30 days, there are never more than 3 days without some negative reporting on Israel in the publicly-funded state TV (SVT). Check out the news function on teletext and on a minimum of 27 days out of 30, there will be a story about Israel. Not about Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, Bangladesh. The standing joke in Sweden is that one can always tell when there is a new employee at the taxpayer-funded SVT, because that is the day there is no anti-Israel item on teletext. New recruits never make the same mistake twice, if they wish to keep their jobs.

Sweden’s state-funded radio, SR, is the same. Read the Swedenisrael blog to see just how deep the rot has set. The same blog also comments on how Sweden is perceived in Israel, referring to recent comments by Israeli president Shimon Perez.

Israel’s president is not alone, of course. Here is how Sweden is widely viewed in Israel. The first version is with subtitles in Swedish, the second version has subtitles in English:

With Swedish subtitles:

With English subtitles:

Of course, the way Sweden is perceived is not solely a result of the way the media hound the Jewish state. The media take their cue from Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, a man whose animosity towards the Jewish state absorbs as much of his energy as his shady dealings in Lundin Oil, a Swedish company alleged to have been involved in some highly suspect dealings in Sudan, a country torn apart by genocidal Islamist warlords and whose dictator, Omar Hassan al-Bashir is on the run – only Muslim states take him in. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt comments openly and disparagingly on the Jewish state’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (link in Swedish), but has refused to comment on Sudan’s Islamist despot al-Bashir, for whom an Interpol arrest warrant has been issued.

It’s all part of a worrying Swedish pattern. Next month Sweden goes to the polls. Swedes who believe in democracy and equality want the current Alliance centre-right-liberal government to continue in power – but they do not want the next government to be burdened with the current foreign minister, who has just one agenda on his desk and four years to pursue it: Israel.

This, it must be remembered, is the Swedish Foreign Minister who simply cannot find it within himself to say a harsh word about the Iranian regime or its despotic leader – read the excellent piece by independent Swedish journalist Mats Tunehag in the Wall Street Journal.

Read another independent-minded Swedish journalist (there are a few of this rare breed) on the subject of Carl Bildt and the wreckage that is Sweden’s foreign policy: Per Gudmundson writes on “Why Carl Bildt is driving the Israelis up the wall”.

And of course there is that seminal work on Carl Bildt and his partisan Swedish foreign policy by Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld entitled “Attack Carl Bildt but not Sweden”. Dr Gerstenfeld has published fifteen books, including Behind the Humanitarian Mask, the Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews. (2008)

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